By Emily Barber
One would think that companies should know how to avoid being sexist in the 21st century, right? Wrong.
Bic, maker of pens, lighters, razors and more, made a Facebook post for South Africa’s Women’s Day in August 2015 that pretty much did the opposite of empower women. The post, which can be seen below, features a woman dressed in business clothes. Next to her are the words, “Look like a girl. Act like a lady. Think like a man. Work like a boss.” Excuse me? On a holiday celebrating women, Bic is telling them to think like a man?
Social media users were quick to call Bic out on their mistake. One Facebook comment read, “Why am I expected to look like a child? Why am I expected to see the world through a masculine lens? Why am I expected to ‘think like a man’ but not expected to ‘act like a man’ on my so-called manly thoughts?” Another Twitter user said, “Bic’s creative agency’s brief was ‘insult women in a way they haven’t been insulted already, this Women’s Month.’”
Bic quickly caught wind of the criticism of their post and issued this apology:
“We would like to apologize to all our fans who took offense to our recent Women’s Day Post. We can assure you that we meant it in the most empowering way possible and in no way derogatory towards women. We took the quote from a ‘Women in Business’ blog site. The blog site explains the quote and what its intentions were when it was written. BIC believe in celebrating women and the powerful contribution women make to our society.”
However, this was not taken sincerely, as there was no real apology. Bic simply blamed the blog they stole the quote from as the source of the problem. Social media users continued to voice their opinions, leading to a second apology:
“Let’s start out by saying we’re incredibly sorry for offending everybody – that was never our intention, but we completely understand where we’ve gone wrong. This post should never have gone out. The feedback you have given us will help us ensure that something like this will never happen again, and we appreciate that.”
This witty response generated lots of positive responses on Twitter. It encouraged women to be themselves, rather than tell them how to look, act or think. With more consideration, Bic could have easily avoided this debacle. A simple message embracing women would have done much better. I would have changed the copy to, “Here’s to being you.” This celebrates women without excluding anyone or suggesting how a woman should be.
Bic South Africa apologizes for sexist ‘Think like a man Facebook statement posts during its Women’s Day campaign. (2015, August 14). Retrieved from http://www.nydailynews.com/news/world/bic-apologizes-sexist-comment-women-day-article-1.2325746
Chou, J. (2015, August 11). This Pen Company Wants Us To “Look Like a Girl…Think Like A Man.” Retrieved from http://www.refinery29.com/2015/08/92187/bic-south-africa-sexist-ad
Davies, C. (2015, August 11). ‘Look like a girl…think like a man’: Bic causes outrage on national women’s day. Retrieved from http://www.theguardian.com/society/2015/aug/11/look-like-a-girl-think-like-a-man-bic-outrage-south-africa-womens-day
Mitchell, E. (2015, August 11). Bic Apologizes for Womens’ Day ‘Think Like A Man’ Post. Retrieved from http://www.adweek.com/prnewser/bic-apologizes-for-womens-day-think-like-a-man-post/117286
Nudd, T. (2015, August 12). Bic Apologizes for Women’s Day Ad That Mostly Just Made Women Furious. Retrieved from http://www.adweek.com/adfreak/bic-apologizes-womens-day-ad-mostly-just-made-women-furious-166358